Despite a variety of denials this week, Michael Jackson’s body will indeed be heading to his beloved Neverland Ranch, both CNN and TMZ.com are reporting.
Law-enforcement sources have told TMZ that “upwards of a 30-car motorcade – including Jackson’s body – will be travelling from Los Angeles to Neverland at 10 a.m. on Thursday.”
A public viewing will take place Friday, followed by a private memorial service on Sunday, CNN reports.
A spokesman for the Santa Barbara County fire department confirmed that fire officials, California Highway Patrol and county sheriffs officials were meeting Tuesday to discuss the contingencies of a public viewing.
“The Santa Barbara County Fire Department is willing to accommodate the Jackson family with whatever request they have regarding a funeral procession should they have one,” spokesman David Sadecki said.
Neverland is located in the rolling hills of central California’s wine country, about 240 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson’s final resting place is another matter. The mayor of Gary, Ind., Rudy Clay, is urging the family to allow Jackson’s body to “lie in state” for a memorial service in the late singer’s hometown July 10 at U.S. Steel Works ballpark.
As for a burial site, CNN quotes the mayor’s spokeswoman, Lalosa Burns, saying the mayor is hoping it would be near a proposed Jackson museum and arts centre in the city.
“The mayor had spoken with a contact of the Jackson family and expressed our interest in having that to be a part of the history of this great family,” Burns said. “We have not received confirmation on that.”
Meanwhile, the details of what is believed to be Michael Jackson’s last will – one that apparently leaves nothing to the late singer’s father – could be revealed as early as Thursday.
The will in question was drafted in 2002 and splits Jackson’s estate among his mother, children, and one or more charities, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Jackson’s parents, Joseph and Katherine, said in a court filing this week that they don’t believe their son had a valid will when he died.
“No will has been presented to family or us,” wrote the parents’ lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, who also once represented Michael Jackson. “We will review any will when we see it.”
In 2007, Jackson claimed to have a net worth of $236 million (U.S.) as of March 31, 2007, according to financial documents prepared by Washington-based accounting firm Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates.
The documents offer an account of the state of Jackson’s financial empire, which is expected to become the focus of a legal battle between the singer’s family and creditors.
Jackson had $567.6 million in assets, including his Neverland Ranch, his share of the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalogue that includes the rights to songs by the Beatles, and an assortment of cars, antiques and collectibles, according to a statement of financial condition.
The five-page report says Jackson had debts of $331 million, leaving him with a net worth of $236.6 million. Highlighting his shaky financial health, the singer known for his lavish shopping sprees had just $668,215 in cash, according to the report, which is dated June 12, 2007.
The report says the accounting of Jackson’s finances is “based on information produced by his advisers.” It paints a pictures of Jackson’s tangled finances and the mountain of debt he left behind.
The report values Jackson’s 50 per cent stake in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalogue – his most prized assets – at $390.6 million.
Another of Jackson’s prized possessions, his Neverland Ranch, is valued at $33 million, according to the report. It says Jackson took out a $23 million loan against the 2,500-acre property in the rolling hills of Santa Barbara County.